There’s a faint silver lining to Hawaii’s COVID surge: Vaccinations are way up

Every week since the end of July, more and more people are getting vaccinated.
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since the end of July, the number of new COVID vaccine doses administered in the islands has gone up, according to the Department of Health.

In the last week of July, there were less than 15,000 newly administered doses.

This past week, the Health Department reported nearly 28,000.

Health officials from the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center said even though they are kept incredibly busy caring for patients ill with COVID, they welcome the rising demand for vaccines.

“Right now, most of our vaccine clinics are nearly at standing room only,” said Jacob Schafer, the director of infection control at the health center.

“There are that many people that are coming in to get their shots, and that’s a great thing.”

Schafer said that before August, they averaged only about 60 vaccinations a day.

Now they’re almost doubling that.

“With the full FDA approval of the vaccine, this has really opened the door for a lot of employers, schools and other places to mandate vaccination,” said Schafer. “The other reason: Everyone on the Leeward Coast knows someone who either has COVID or is deeply affected by COVID.”

Sanoe Pemberton works at the WCCHC, and recently got vaccinated.

She’s pregnant and the lack of full FDA approval until recently deterred her from getting the jab earlier. But she also saw firsthand what the virus has done to the Leeward Coast.

After Pfizer’s full approval, she went for it.

“I hear their stories over the phone,” Pemberton said.

“They’re fully sick, they can’t even move, whereas people who are vaccinated, have little sniffles or something. So just hearing everybody’s stories on my own. I said, okay, I should get it.”

But not all community clinics are seeing a rise in demand for vaccines.

In Kona, the West Hawaii Community Health Center said the employer mandates have more so driven people to ask for tests, rather than get the vaccine.

“The requests and the need for testing are far exceeding the requests for vaccines,” said Roberta Losik, the director for clinical operations at WHCHC.

“It’s really sad. We’re working so hard and people who have worked in health care a long time are now saying that they don’t know if they can keep doing this.”

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